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I have recently uncovered in the loft, a box containing about 2500 CDV cards c1860-1870, the majority of which are Art History images from all the major European and British collections of around 1865. These images are organised according to country artist and school of art with printed and embossed dividers for each section. The rest of the cards are portraits including images of celebrities, artists, politicians, nobility, European royalty and American civil war generals. The third type are views of Edinburgh, Glasgow and other parts of Scotland also some of the Isle of White.

Each card is labelled "Collection Sumichrast" and numbered, some are dated, there is also a full hand written catalogue that lives in a sliding drawer at the bottom of the box.


I have discovered that

F C Sumichrast, was an Academic, writer and translator from French to English who was a professor of languages at Edinburgh University in the late 1860s and then moved to work at Harvard University in America. 

Frederic Caesar John Martin Sumichrast-Roussey was born in Belgium in 1845. He was of Hungarian origins and held Hungarian citizenship. His parents had moved to Edinburgh by 1858 when his sister was born.

By 1888 he has moved on to America and he is working at Harvard University and has become a Professor at Harvard by 1896

Professor F C Sumichrast went on to be a well respected translator of the works of Theophile Gautier and Victor Hugo but is also known for his own works including “The Making of America”. He was president of “The Victorian Society in Harvard and established his reputation as an academic and writer there. He is listed in “Who was who in American History”.

He stayed at Harvard until 1911 when they move back to England and lived in Ealing from 1912-1932

He died in 1933 aged 88, he had no children.

I believe this collection may have been used by him for academic reference in Edinburgh and came to my family when he moved to America in 1888, by direct purchase or by auction. I have a relative who was a Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh at this time and can trace the box via his daughter who then put it into storage in 1922. She was my wife's Aunt.


I am not a collector but would like to do something with this collection and would love to know more about its origins and purpose. I know it was unusual to have a large collection of this kind at the time and most CDVs were put into small albums as domestic talking points with mostly personal images.

The purpose made box is also unusual and may be as used in a photographic studio for storing cards!

Who should I contact for academic reasons? The V and A, National Portrait Gallery, Bradford Museum, Scottish National Collection, Harvard...

Where can I get a fair valuation of this collection?


I have scanned in the cards and created a basic website if you are interested in seeing the collection @

F.C.Sumichrast's Collection of Victorian Carte Des Visites:Home

Thank you

Martin Ferrabee


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